MMORPG Info Logo Need vs Greed

Most MMORPGs offer a system for looting meant to cut down on the amount of discussion needed. The general concept is simple and meant to mimic the conversations that were theoretically taking place after every kill.

“Do you need this? Does anyone? Is it an upgrade or just for selling?”

Need is usually accepted as meaning “I can and will use this item.” This way, items that are upgrades go to the people who actually need them, with the rest being randomly distributed amongst the group as cash loot.

Sounds simple – so what is going wrong? In every game I play, it seems that there are still lengthy discussions – as well as loud complaints – about how the need vs greed system works in reality.

“I need it all!”

One person with flawed logic can ruin the system for everyone. They choose need for everything, convinced they are in the right. No, they can’t actually use the armor but they could sell it – and they NEED the cash for upgrades, seeing as the upgrades they want aren’t dropping for them. This type of person doesn’t appear to comprehend that they are making a mockery of the system – if ability to sell an item counts for need, then there is never a reason to choose greed. In addition, I’ve met a few who despite rolling need on every drop somehow believed that if something dropped that was a direct upgrade, the rest of the group would pass. Well, no, not really.

There are really only two options for dealing with this. Either accept that the system does not work and roll need on everything that drops, or kick the person out of the group with an entreaty to learn game mechanics. I’ve never seen the latter make a difference but it’s still my preferred option.

“Can we talk about it?”

The second scenario is less annoying but has the same effect: every drop is discussed to determine who needs it, negating the benefit of the need vs greed system in the game. In this example, members of the group may wait to find out if anyone can use or even decline on the assumption that the piece will be an upgrade for someone else. Simpler game systems put the fear of god into anyone who rolled on a no-drop piece he couldn’t use, so it’s instinctive to check and double-check that no one really wants the piece before clicking greed. Worse is the person who could use the upgrade piece but, as it isn’t much of an upgrade, he doesn’t click anything at all, leaving the window to time-out. This means the piece is distributed amongst the “greedy” people who should have passed on his behalf, reinforcing the belief that discussion is required for every drop.

If the group is going to ignore the game-mechanic, that needs to be made clear at the start, so that people who use the system as intended don’t end up looking like the bad guys.

“I do need it – for my alt!”

As a general rule, alts do not give you looting privileges above those more focused players with a single character. Claiming that your alt can and will use is a murky argument at best, in my opinion on the same scale as needing the cash from the sale of the loot.

More importantly, it breaks the game mechanic, as choosing need for a piece for your alt is given equal ranking to someone in the group who needs it for the character they are on, which can make for hard feelings fast.

There are a few circumstances where it might make sense – for example clearing a lower-level area where none of the direct participants will benefit. If you wish for the group to take your alts into account for the loot, you really must bring this up to be agreed in advanced.

“Gimme that rare component!”

Every game has key components drop which are required to create top-end items. I have previously rolled need on the basis that if my character wants the item which results from the component, then she needs the component. However, I have found that many groups I’m in roll greed on such items – stating that they don’t really need the component, they’d simply like to have it in order to then get the resulting item. This seems to me to be a total diversion from the standard “can and will use” policy of need – but perhaps it’s just me?

“I need it for tradeskilling.”

And then it gets really messy. If it is a tradeskill item that has no other function which you can use directly on that character, then it seems pretty clear cut. Problems are caused by the fact that many people adventure on one character and tradeskill on another – so shouldn’t they get a chance? What about the person (and we all know one) who has alts covering every tradeskill in the game – should they get to roll on everything? Should they get to roll on things where no other member of the group has an interest? What if you need the drops to craft items to sell, rather than to skill-up?

My personal response is to ask everyone to roll need on every tradeskill item that they can use in any way, as there doesn’t appear to be a fairer way of distribution. But then this has to exclude items which are not limited to tradeskills – specifically transmuting and disenchanting, which break down equipment into components used elsewhere. As this type of skill uses all equipment shouldn’t be able to roll need on every piece of armor that drops because he can use it in his tradeskill. Bind-on-Acquire (No-drop) items need dealing with carefully on this score.


Most games have items which are no-drop, so if a mistake was made with looting, there is no option to rectify it. This is the cause of a lot of the conversation that takes place before anyone dares loot. If an item can be handed to someone else after looting, there shouldn’t be a lot of need for conversation before choosing the correct option.

The biggest problem is when you have a transmuter/disenchanter in the group who will break down the equipment that isn’t an upgrade, resulting in a tradeable component that all can use. Even game developers can fall afoul of this, with a needed item going to dust because of confusion when rolling.

This combination absolutely requires discussion but I think a rule could be made to deal with it. Droppable items are dealt with as standard, that’s easy. Group members should not roll at all on any no-drop items unless the item is an upgrade. The transmuter/disenchanter should roll greed on all no-drop items. As usual, anyone who can and will use the item chooses need. Now the system works again, with the transmuter getting all no-drop items unless they are an upgrade to a player.

So how do you roll?

I’ve outlined my personal view of choosing need vs greed but I’ve been in many groups that don’t seem to follow the same system. When do you feel you need an item as opposed simply wanting it? Personally, I hate the idea of the game deciding for the group who “needs” the drops – but I’ve seen a few people post in favor of this, automating the system completely. Can you think of a better way of implementing looting so as to avoid these pitfalls?

I don’t really need the answers but I can and will use them. 🙂



  • Tiran Kenja wrote:

    I love how this discussion keeps going everywhere.

    As stated the ‘common rules’ are easy to understand. But obviously there will always be people who don’t know or don’t care. There is an important difference between those tho. The former ones can usually be taught the correct roll etiquette. And will only miss-roll a couple of times (hell! Everyone miss-rolls from time to time). The latter is the type of player you don’t want to play with anyway. And his, or her, name is a fine addition to any ignore list.

    Obviously you don’t want to have this sort of discussion over a ‘vital’ piece of loot. But it is a great way to sort player personalities when you are out questing with randoms.

    And,obviously, it should always work if you are playing with people you know and trust. If it don’t, you are trusting the wrong sort of people.

  • Adam wrote:

    Maybe they should have a window for disenchanting as well. Then if no one wants the item, you can DE and see if anyone needs the gem etc, otherwise everyone then rolls greed on the gems. end of story

  • Taymar wrote:

    Tiran, I think you are right in that for a lot of people, it is an education issue – but in LOTRO at least it seemed like people were being dumped from the PUG without a word, so not really getting a chance to understand the problem.

    I do think that the trust element has to be there – I very much dislike the concept of the game deciding for the players.

  • Taymar wrote:

    Adam: I hate to see things get too complicated but I think you are right – it’s an odd situation with disenchanting and transmuting which the normal system doesn’t really deal with.

  • Illisium wrote:

    Damn, now I understand why that Mage rolled on my leather boots; look, I understand Enchanters need their crystals and everyone needs money to pay their bills, but as far as I’m concerned, “I can and will use it” has always meant (long before WoW) “I intend to soil these with the blood of the undead and/or dragons”.

    Disenchanting is not need. Tradeskills are not need. Need is the Nature Resistance that keeps you from screaming like a little girl as corrosive acid eats out your innards. You’ll get another chance to get the crystals for enchanting, but you won’t get another group if turn some guild tank’s resist gear into a Agility boost.

  • Taymar wrote:

    I agree with you – if someone can and will use then that’s what “need” is about. The point is that if no one needs, that is, no one present will actually wear the boots) then the next best option is usually the disenchanter.

  • Johnnie Green wrote:

    Need vs greed, plain greedy person is hard to get to look within themselves and to trust of the here and now and the future.

  • Taymar wrote:

    I agree in the case of a plain greedy person. But often, it’s simply a lack of understanding, from what I’ve seen.

  • Henk wrote:

    I think that some upgrade items should not have any sell price or disenchanting whatsoever. This might cut down on the number of unnecessary upgrade losses to other players.

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